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Scholar to present lecture on race relations

April 05, 2010

Kimberlé Crenshaw, co-founder of the African American Policy Forum and a leading authority in the areas of civil rights and the politics of race, brings her perspective to Arizona State University April 8 for the 15th anniversary A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations. “Educating All Our Children: A Constitutional Perspective” is the topic of her talk, to begin at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ventana Ballroom on ASU’s Tempe campus.

Crenshaw, a professor of law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, has facilitated workshops for human rights activists in Brazil and India and for constitutional court judges in South Africa. Her work on “intersectionality” was influential in drafting the equality clause in the South Africa Constitution.

She has worked extensively on issues relating to gender and race such as violence against women, racial inequality and affirmative action. She served on the National Science Foundation’s committee to research violence against women and has worked with various organizations to help advance their race and gender equity initiatives. Her articles have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, National Black Law Journal, Stanford Law Review and Southern California Law Review.

The African American Policy Forum, which she co-founded in 1996, conducts a variety of projects designed to advance social inclusion. Among these are the Affirmative Action Research and Policy Consortium and the Multiracial Literacy and Leadership Initiative. She is also a founding member of the Women’s Media Initiative; writes for Ms. magazine and The Nation; and is a regular commentator on the Tavis Smiley Show and MSNBC.

Crenshaw also is the founding coordinator of the Critical Race Theory Workshop and co-editor of the volume “Critical Race Theory: Key Documents That Shaped the Movement.”

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell, a Juris Doctor from Harvard and a Master of Laws from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

The A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations, presented by ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is held to celebrate and honor the work Smith accomplished during his lifetime. A former professor and chair of sociology at ASU, Smith spent much of his life in pursuit of the advancement of race relations on campus and within his community. The lecture was established after his death in 1994 through funding from his family and friends in their hopes to continue Smith’s work of improving race relations in Arizona.

“By inviting the university and larger community to reflect on, and talk about, race relations with a prominent scholar or leader working in the area, and what we as individuals can do to advance these relationships, I think we are expanding everyone’s understanding of the problems and possible solutions,” said Elsie Moore, Smith’s widow and a professor in ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education.

The past 14 lectures have been given by prominent individuals in public service or at universities. The inaugural lecture was with Princeton University’s Cornel West, speaking on “Race Matters.” Other distinguished lecturers were: William Julius Wilson, Morris Dees, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Roger Wilkins, Michael Eric Dyson, Mary Frances Berry, Johnnetta Cole, Ray Suarez, Christopher Edley Jr., Robin Kelley, Darlene Clark Hine, Leonard Pitts Jr. and Julianne Malveaux.

Also to be presented at this year’s lecture is the A. Wade Smith Community Award for the Advancement of Race Relations. This award is presented annually to a caring and courageous person in the community who best represents what it means to be a leader in the struggle for the advancement of race relations.

This year’s award recipient is Gene Blue, president and CEO of the Arizona Opportunities Industrialization Center, a nonprofit, community-based organization designed to address the critical employability needs of Phoenix’s economically disadvantaged and ethnic minority citizens.

Past recipients of the award include David Hemphill, Doris Marshall, Raner Collins, Betty Fairfax, Jean Fairfax and Elsie Moore.

The A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations is free and open to the public, though seating is limited and reservations are requested to be made online at

Written by Danielle Legler ( for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Carol Hughes,
(480) 965-6375